Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

pink shirts February 27, 2013

This is Pink Shirt Day, and it’s a day to talk openly about bullying.  In schools all over Canada, teachers and students put on pink shirts and take a stand against bullying.

It’s a day to confront victimization, and a day to talk about personal ethics amid hypocrisy.

When I ask a class full of teens whether they’ve ever been bullied, every hand goes up.  Every kid knows what it feels like to be looked down on, pushed around, and belittled.

Then I ask them, how many of them have ever bullied someone else, and the hands rise again.  Not usually all the hands this time, but awfully close.  95 per cent, say.  Let’s be honest, who hasn’t snapped at his sibling, made a rude remark about the kid who wasn’t cool, just so you’d feel a little better about your own status?

“Look! I belong because you don’t.”

So wearing a pink shirt is fine, and I’ll be wearing mine.  But I’ll be asking the hard questions.  Not just “Did you feel bad when you were bullied?” but “Why did you do it to someone else?”  “Why do you gain your personal power on the back of someone’s self-esteem? ”

Kids don’t get shaken down for lunch money any more.  I’ve never seen a kid shoved into a locker who didn’t request his friends help him get in.

Kids learn to bully.

We have role models after all, of what civilized behavior looks like.  We watch our political leaders shout obnoxious comments back and forth in the House of Commons and in our provincial Legislatures.

We watch talk show hosts encourage guests to jump on one another, as we gleefully anticipate the moment when all hell breaks loose.

We scream obscenities at rival sports teams.

We insult other cultures and religions.  Red, brown, black, yellow, white.  Everybody seems to have a colour that isn’t quite right.

We send soldiers to settle issues by fighting.

Why wouldn’t kids bully each other, when that’s what they see modeled every day?

So wear your pink shirt, but don’t think it’s going to stop anything, until the leaders quit using violence, obscenity and insult to get their way.

Don’t allow yourself to be bullied.

Take a stand and celebrate your unique place in the world.

Demand the respect you deserve.

Be proud you’re you.



Rather than feeling sorry for yourself, stand up proudly.

Don’t allow yourself to be bullied.

Take a stand and celebrate your unique place in the world.

Demand the respect you deserve.

Be proud you’re you.

Like Balpreet Kaur of Ohio State University, whose intelligent and courteous response to cyber-bullies taught them something valuable.  When Kaur was mocked for her facial hair, which she isn’t allowed to cut because she is a devout Sikh, she took the time to explain her faith, and in so doing, made the bullies aware of their small-mindedness. 

Don’t allow yourself to be bullied.

Take a stand and celebrate your unique place in the world.

Demand the respect you deserve.

Be proud you’re you.


9 Responses to “pink shirts”

  1. Well said ! Our Politicians and Governing bodies need to remember they’re in the spotlight and act accordingly.Respect for someone else’s opinion doesn’t hurt but when you ridicule them to the cheers of your backbenchers expect the same in return,You’ll get no respect from the public but I’m sure you’ll not mind since you’ve come to believe yours is the opinion that matters.

  2. […] pink shirts ( […]

    • Shawn Bird Says:

      Of course, no one says you have to use “official pink shirts.” Any pink shirt will do. Go to your local thrift store. Or drop your white shirt into a sink of warm water and a few drops of red food colouring. 🙂

  3. […] pink shirts ( […]

  4. […] to this, is last year’s Pink shirt poem, which features Shane Koyzcan’s infamous “To This Day” poem/ youtube […]

  5. Emma Dumitra Says:

    Thanks for linking back to this. This whole “we’re-gonna-change-the-world-by-wearing-pink-t-shirts” attitude with anti-bullying day always makes me uncomfortable because it doesn’t seem to work – and you helped me think about why that is the case. We should definitely introduce more positive Say Hi To Someone You Don’t Know Days in school culture.

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